Puppies make wonderful companions and a new puppy is a source of pleasure and joy. Here are a few tips for the care of your puppy.

Housing

When your new pup arrives home, let him quietly become familiar with his new surroundings. Show him where his bed is. This should be warm and dry, free from draughts and in a quiet area. Start him sleeping where he is always going to sleep. Don’t allow him to sleep on your bed “just for the night” if you don’t wish him to be sleeping there permanently.

Pups have two speeds: asleep and full speed. They can become tired easily and should be left alone to rest. If your puppy is crying when you first leave him alone, a ticking clock may be kept near his bed to substitute the sound of his mother’s heart. A hot water bottle (not too hot) wrapped in a towel or blanket can also help to keep him company.

If you already have animals at home and are unsure how they will react, ensure that they are introduced in a neutral area in the house, not near eating or sleeping areas. Feed animals separately during the welcoming phase, as dogs can be territorial about their meals.

 

Feeding

Try to find out what the puppy was being fed before you got him and start him on a similar diet. Any time you change your dog’s diet, do so gradually; sudden changes can cause stomach upsets or diarrhoea. Your pup’s diet should be based on a ‘super premium’ quality commercial puppy food, these diets are balanced and contain all the nutrients that your puppy needs.  It is important your chosen pet food identifies what size pup you’re feeding – particularly so if your dog is a large or giant breed.

Puppies aged six to twelve weeks should be fed multiple times a day. As a rough guide they should be allowed to eat as much as they feel inclined to at each meal. Allow 15 minutes access to food at each meal and if they are not inclined to eat, remove the food and try again at the next meal. Puppies may be fed three times a day until they are 6 months of age and then they should be fed twice daily. In deciding how much to feed your puppy use the recommendation on the packet as a starting point. If you are concerned your puppy is too heavy or too thin, seek our assistance.

Life Plan

Life Plan is a program designed to tailor your pet’s yearly health check ups and vaccinations to their age and breed. Pets, like us, have a higher likelihood of certain illnesses at different ages. As your pet becomes older we will concentrate on different health issues with a strong emphasis on preventative health care.

With puppies we focus on preventative health issues such as parasite control and behavioural issues like mouthing and biting.

Our aim is “Healthier Pets for Life!”

Vaccinations

Vaccinations protect your dog against diseases that could cause serious illness or death. The diseases we vaccinate for are:

Distemper
This disease can cause severe fever, respiratory symptoms (coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, pneumonia), eye discharge, vomiting, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, listlessness and dehydration. Nervous signs such as muscle tremors, convulsions, loss of balance and progressive paralysis can occur later in the course of the disease. The recovery rate is extremely low.

Hepatitis
The clinical signs of hepatitis vary from mild to severe. Severe attacks of the disease can cause sudden death. Less severe attacks cause high fever, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, “blue eye” (cloudiness of the cornea) and jaundice.

Parvovirus
Parvovirus enteritis results in severe diarrhoea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fever, loss of appetite, and extreme depression. It is often accompanied by rapid dehydration and collapse. It can affect dogs of any age but is most common in dogs under six months of age.  Approximately 50% of puppies that develop parvovirus diarrhoea die from the disease or complications.

Canine (“Kennel”) cough
This respiratory system disease is characterised by a harsh, non productive cough that may persist for anything up to three weeks. In young or old animals it can predispose to a potentially fatal secondary pneumonia. Canine cough is either caused by a virus (Parainfluenza) or, less commonly, bacteria (Bordetella). We routinely vaccinate for both forms.

The vaccination program for your puppy will be discussed and tailored to suit your individual circumstances.  As a general rule, at six to eight weeks your puppy is vaccinated against Distemper, Hepatitis, and Parvovirus (this will often have been whilst the puppy was still under his breeder’s care).  At ten weeks he is vaccinated against these three diseases again as well as the bacterial and viral forms of Canine (kennel) Cough, you will sometimes hear this called a C5 vaccination.  To keep your dog protected from these diseases regular booster vaccinations are required.

Intestinal Worms

There are several types of intestinal worms. Roundworms are a major problem in puppies. Puppies should be wormed against roundworms at two weeks of age and then fortnightly until 12 weeks of age, then once monthly until six months of age. (Please refer to the preventative dog health sheet for more information)

Adult dogs should be wormed at least every three months with an all-wormer, such as Milbemax. These all-wormers treat for roundworms, hookworms, whipworm and tapeworms. When purchasing worm tablets read the label carefully as many do not treat for tapeworms. If you are using Advocate or Panoramis for flea and heartworm prevention you need to administer a separate Tapewormer at least every six months.  Please ask us which worm preparation is most suited to your puppy.

Heartworm Disease

Heartworm is a prolonged debilitating disease that can be fatal. Heartworms are long thin worms that live inside the arteries of the lung and the chambers of the heart. The disease is spread via mosquitoes. Even if your dog never leaves your backyard or house, it can still become infected. Treatment of heartworm is very difficult and can be dangerous to your pet so prevention is best.

There are several effective methods of prevention. The three we recommend are Advocate spot-on, Panoramis chews and ProHeart SR-12 injection. Advocate is a monthly product that kills adult fleas too and is applied to the skin. ProHeart SR-12 is an injection that is administered once a year to from 12 weeks of age. Panoramis is a monthly palatable chew. Failure to give the correct dose at the correct time can result in your dog becoming infected with heartworm.  If treatment ever lapses for more than three months, a blood test should be taken before giving the next dose.  All dogs over the age of six months must have a blood test before starting prevention.

Socialisation

The dog to human bond is established early in a pup’s life. Encourage your family and friends to mingle with the pup. Socialising with other healthy dogs is good but should be minimised until a week after your puppy’s last vaccination. Introduce your puppy to new people and dogs calmly, avoid excitement and excessively rough play. Supervise young children with the puppy initially. Try to prioritise existing pets in the household to minimise their confusion. We cover all this and more in our Puppy Preschool.

Registration

Every council requires puppies over three months of age to be registered.  For up-to-date information specific to the City of Stonnington, click here

Identification

Victorian State legislation requires your puppy to be microchipped before registration. A microchip is a tiny permanent identifier that is implanted with just one small injection. In addition to this your puppy should always have some form of identification on. The minimum required is a dog tag with his name on it and your telephone number.

Training

You can begin training your puppy when he has settled in. He is never too young to start, and the earlier he starts the better. Basic training is simple but you should take care to be consistent and patient with your puppy.

Obedience training clubs and books are a great help, especially if you have not trained a puppy before. A good, simple and easy to follow book is “Dog Training, The Simple Modern Method” by David Weston.

The puppy will learn to recognise his name if you use it often, especially when calling him to come. The word “NO” should be understood by the puppy, but after saying this command when he has done something wrong, it is good to show him the correct behaviour and praise him for that. Consistency is very important so as not to confuse the puppy. All members of the household should be encouraging the same good behaviour, and discouraging the same bad behaviour.

You should start with teaching your puppy simple commands such as Sit, Stay, Come and Heel. Puppies have a short concentration span and so lessons should be kept short, no longer than 5 minutes.

Canine Etiquette School

Creating a well mannered, polite, tolerant and trustworthy dog from a gorgeous, unruly, untrained puppy is your challenge. We can help.

A well mannered dog is a joy to take out for a walk and will play happily with friends in the park. A polite dog will sit contentedly at your feet while you enjoy a coffee at a sidewalk café. A tolerant dog will welcome guests to your house and be trustworthy around strangers and children. To help develop these important skills we have developed our Canine Etiquette School. Etiquette school is an excellent second step in a puppy’s education and is something to look forward to after Puppy Preschool.

The curriculum is designed to reinforce and build on the skills puppies have been introduced to in their basic training at home, or in puppy preschool classes. Canine Etiquette School runs over four weeks and enrolments are open to puppies between 5 and 9 months of age. Please contact us on 9510 1335 for more information or to enrol.

Toilet Training

Avoid Noxious Treatment.

Scolding, hitting or rubbing the dog’s nose in its urine or faeces after it has eliminated in an undesirable location is notoriously ineffective at house-training. Often it makes matters worse, because the dog becomes more anxious.

Feeding & Drinking Routine.
Feed the dog at regular times. For a dog that defecates at night it is better to feed it one meal first thing in the morning. Take it out for an empty last thing at night.

Reward Elimination in the Correct Place.
Dogs tend to eliminate away from their nest or bed, in areas where they or other dogs have eliminated, against structures like trees or fences, and in long grass. A dog is more likely to eliminate straight after a sleep, meal, or play session. Take the dog to the area you want it to go and wait with the dog and reward it (tit-bit, praise and pat) for eliminating there. Once the dog is eliminating consistently in the desired place, you can stop rewarding every time. If it shows pre-elimination behaviour (restlessness, sniffing, circling, squatting or leg cocking) in the house, immediately take it out without a reprimand to the desired place.

When you are out, the dog should be either kept out of the house with free access to the elimination area, or confined in a small area in which the dog eats and sleeps. Elimination is unlikely in the nest or near food.

Cleaning Up.
Clean up any urine or faeces in the house when the dog cannot see it being done. This stops attention being drawn to the urine or faeces and it becoming a significant item for the dog.

Tips kindly supplied by Dr Robert Holmes, specialist veterinary behaviour consultant.

Car Travel

Get your puppy used to the car when he is small. Take him on short rides initially with someone else to hold the puppy while you are driving. No food should be given to the pup for about two hours before the trip. Spend some time making the car a “happy place to be” by feeding the puppy in the stationary car and playing with him in the car. If the puppy is happy and relaxed eating and playing in the car then progress to him going on very short trips that end with a walk at the park or some pleasurable experience.

We recommend that dogs have a car harness to keep them in place in the car. This is just like a seat belt for humans. You never know when you may have to brake suddenly and your pet may be catapulted forward in the car, causing severe injury or bruising.

During the trip remember only to praise him when he is bright and happy. If you pat and cuddle him when he is nervous it will encourage anxious behavior.

Teeth

As dogs age they may develop dental problems such as gum inflammation and periodontal disease. The most effective way to prevent this is to brush your dog’s teeth.

Our vets and nurses will  happily help train you to brush your puppy’s teeth, the earlier you start this process the better.

Chewing is also an important method of reducing plaque on your puppy’s teeth.  Speak to us about the most effective treats and diets to maximise his dental health.

Teething

Puppies get their baby teeth (deciduous teeth) between two and eight weeks of age. From two to six months of age they shed their deciduous teeth and their permanent teeth erupt. They have all their permanent teeth by seven – eight months of age. Supply your puppy with chew toys, such as rawhide, during these months.

Flea Control

Life Cycle Of the Flea
Fleas are small, brown or black wingless insects with flattened bodies. These blood-sucking insects cause considerable irritation and distress to affected pets. Severe infestation may lead to anaemia from blood loss. Fleas spread the common tapeworm in dogs and cats. Flea bites also cause skin disorders on both pets and people.

After taking a blood meal, fleas drop off your pet and deposit their eggs in cracks, crevices and carpeting. A single breeding pair of fleas may produce 20,000 fleas in three months. Eggs hatch after two to 12 days into larvae that feed in the environment. Larvae moult twice and then spin a cocoon for anywhere from a week to a year. Fleas are very difficult to kill when they are in a cocoon. Most (90%) of the life cycle is spent away from the pet in the environment. This is why control of the flea in the environment is essential for proper flea control.

Control of Fleas
Many flea control products are not compatible with each other and cannot be used safely in combination. Also, some insecticides that are used in dogs should not be used in cats. Keep the insecticides away from children. Read the safety directions on the container very carefully when using chemicals and insecticides.

All treatments supplied at Prahran Veterinary Hospital are safe from at least 8 weeks of age.  Check your labels carefully, as this is not the case for all products

Advocate and Activyl are topical liquids applied to the back of the neck, they kill adult fleas (adulticides) for up to one month. Panoramis and Comfortis are oral flea adulticides that also provide month long protection.  Speak to us about the right product for your household.

Desexing

We recommend that all dogs are desexed at six months of age. Female dogs are spayed which is the surgical removal of the ovaries and uterus (ovariohysterectomy). Male dogs are neutered which is the surgical removal of both testicles (castration). These operations are performed under a general anaesthetic.

Reasons for and against Desexing Dogs:
Males Arguments in favour:

  • Stops unwanted puppies
  • Less roaming and wandering
  • Fewer strays and abandoned pets
  • No testicular cancers
  • Much less prostate disease
  • Less aggressive tendencies towards both people and dogs
  • Reduced registration fees

Males Arguments against:

  • Slightly increased chance of urinary incontinence problems when older

Females Arguments in favour.

  • Stop unwanted puppies
  • Fewer strays and unwanted pets
  • No “seasons”
  • Much less chance of breast cancer
  • Eliminates womb infections
  • No problems associated with pregnancy and birth
  • No pseudo-pregnancies
  • Reduced registration fees

 

Females Arguments against:

  • Slightly increased chance of urinary incontinence problems when older

Grooming

Puppies that have long hair or thick coats should begin being groomed as early as six to eight weeks. Long haired dogs should be brushed daily. Be gentle when brushing your puppy and make it an enjoyable time with lots of treats, this will help to avert grooming phobias when your puppy is older.

Brushing puppies before you feed them will make them look forward to grooming sessions. It’s best to place the puppy on a chair or table and then brush from the top of the head to the tip of the tail, not forgetting the chest and face. Be gentle and don’t pull at knots or the puppy will learn to dislike grooming.

Nail clipping for your puppy is a quick and easy task that is often overlooked. When ignored, ingrown nails can occur which is extremely painful. Old cats and dogs that don’t wear down their nails by walking on hard surfaces appear to be most susceptible to overgrown nails. We offer nail clipping to all pets, from birds and rabbits to dogs and cats. You can make an appointment for one of our nurses to clip your pet’s nails for a small fee. Another option is to give nail clipping a try yourself by purchasing a pair of nail clippers from our clinic. Feel free to call us for any queries about nail clipping.

Separation Anxiety

New puppies need a bit of special care when being left alone to lessen the chance of behavioural problems such as separation anxiety. Don’t make a fuss and avoid giving your dog too many cues that you’ll be leaving them. Dogs can be exposed to very short absences from an early age so that they learn not to panic. Some owners have fed or given their dog a bone as they leave, this is logical as long as it is only given when your dog is calm. Initially only leaving the dog for very short periods with the owner in sight can prevent separation anxiety. Once the dog learns to accept the owner’s absence, the length of absence can be increased.

Environmental Enrichment

It is important to make the home environment as interesting as possible for your pup. Toys should be rotated regularly, so that they are exciting when they come out again. Treat balls or Kongs can be filled with food (or a meal) and will keep your pup occupied for hours.

Digging pits or sand pits can be provided to focus your pup’s attention on one area of the garden, rather than your entire garden being chewed and landscaped to your puppies desire! It is possible to bury treats or toys for your pup to find.  This makes the digging area more fun than the rest of the garden.

It is also preferable that your pup is able to observe passing traffic and people so as to prevent boredom.

Environmental enrichment will help to reduce the risk of destructive behaviour and nuisance barking.

Pet Insurance

A variety of pet insurances are available for your puppy. Insurance can help cover the cost of unexpected veterinary visits and provide the best possible care for your pet when the need arises. Refer to the different insurance companies and their policies to find out which suits you and your pet’s needs.

 

Good Luck!

Welcoming a dog into your home can be the experience of a lifetime. Treating him properly from the beginning and encouraging him to do the right things will ensure that you and your puppy will get along well and have fewer problems in the future. Have a great time with your new pet.

© Prahran Veterinary Hospital. Please read disclaimer